Greetings, fellow Masters swimmers! 1

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

It is my great pleasure to be addressing you for the first time as your OMS Coaches Chair!

When I first hopped into the pool for my very first Masters swimming session back in 2003 – yikes…was it really that long ago?!?! – I never envisioned myself writing articles for one of the finest LMSCs in the nation; and yet, nearly eighteen years later and (I hope) a bit wiser, here I am.

In this, my first article, I’ll talk a little about my background, and what you can expect in my future writings.

My swimming career began in grade school, where I swam in a CYO league for two years.  I took up the sport again in high school (Jesuit HS in Beaverton), and at the end of my sophomore year, committed to swimming year-round and joined the Tualatin Hills Thunderbolts.

As I said above, I’ve been a Masters swimmer since 2003.  I started off as a 19-year old with a simple goal: break 1:00 on the 100-yard butterfly.

It had been a goal of mine since high school, and I’d been devastated that I didn’t do it my senior year.  To make a long story short, I finally did so at my very first Masters meet, in March 2004, at a one-day event at the indoor pool at Mt. Hood Community College that I doubt anyone other than myself remembers.

But that’s another story for another time.

In any case, rather than hang up my suit after hitting my goal, I just kept going, setting new and more ambitious goals, training with Corvallis (CAT) Masters, the Tualatin Hills Barracudas, and on my own.

Along the way, I’ve attended fifteen USMS National Championship meets; the 2017 World Masters Games; achieved 70 USMS Top Ten Times; multiple OMS records; was part of a FINA Masters world record setting relay; and have achieved USMS All-American status three times.

As for my coaching and teaching background:

  • I taught my first swim lessons in 2002, and worked as an instructor/lifeguard at Osborn Aquatic Center and for Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) during college.
  • My first coaching experience came as a recreation league coach in 2004, for THPRD, a position I held off and on through 2011.
  • In 2009, the opportunity arose to serve as the assistant swim coach at Hillsboro High School, a position I held through 2014, and after a few years’ hiatus, resumed again in 2016.
  • In 2018, I accepted the position as head coach of the Spartans.
  • From 2011 through 2014, I was a member of the Tualatin Hills Barracudas coaching staff.
  • During my time as an assistant at Hillsboro HS, I became acquainted with the Hillsboro HEAT swim team, and was offered a job in 2012, a position that I still hold, and has molded me into the coach that I am today.
  • In late 2015, I made the decision to expand my coaching repertoire into the realm of strength/conditioning, and began my pursuit of a series of certifications through StrongFirst, the School of Strength, an organization of coaches and students dedicated to the study and cultivation of the skill of strength and its importance in not only sport, but life itself.
  • Since then, I have earned each of StrongFirst’s certifications: SFG (kettlebell) Levels 1 and 2, SFB (bodyweight), and SFL (barbell), and have been sharing this knowledge with the athletes that I train on a daily basis.

Originally, I had never envisioned myself becoming a career coach; it’s yet another one of those proverbial one-thing-led-to-another cases.

It’s like Bilbo Baggins said in”The Lord of the Rings:”  “You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

I don’t regret a single minute of it, and am eager to share all that I’ve learned over my nearly two decades as a Masters swimmer and coach.

As for what to expect from my articles in the near future:

  • Given the Covid pandemic and the fact that a sizeable number of OMS swimmers are out of the pool for the time being, I plan on writing articles that are a bit more on the philosophical side – there’s really not much sense in giving drills or sets or workouts that most swimmers won’t be able to do until pools open up.
  • I’ll begin next month with a series of articles on what constitutes a master athlete (hint: you don’t need an Olympic gold medal).

When I was approached with this position a few weeks ago, I was a bit humbled, but nevertheless jumped at the opportunity, and look forward to doing what I can to carry on OMS’s tradition of being a model LMSC!


Kevin Cleary

OMS Coaches Chair



StrongFirst SFG Level 1
StrongFirst SFG Level 2
StrongFirst SFB
StrongFirst SFL
American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) Level 2 Coach
United States Masters Swimming (USMS) Level 2 Coach
American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor
Center for Obesity Prevention Education (COPE) Health Coach


FINA Masters World Record, 400-Meter Medley Relay (2010)
World Masters Games Silver Medalist, 200-Meter Butterfly (2017)
USMS All-American, 400-Meter Medley Relay (2008, 2012)
USMS All-American, 200-Meter Butterfly (2012)
70 USMS National Top Ten Times
4 Oregon Masters Swimming State Records

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